The Virginian Review

Life … You Gotta Love It! Jan 22. 2022

As Blanche DuBois so famously uttered, “I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers.”

This week, just after the big snow, I experienced the kindness of someone I thought was a stranger. I was woefully looking out at the piles of snow on my deck, my lawn and (worst of all), my driveway. This seemed really too much snow to simply drive through with my car.

I’d just paid a lot to have that driveway covered with shale to fill in the giant holes. Therefore, I was reluctant to call a plow truck to come in and get it out of the way. I just knew all that expensive shale would end up in piles at the top, and the bottom, of the driveway. So, I figured I’d just let it sit, and hopefully melt before I absolutely had to go somewhere.

But I did have to go somewhere: My essential groceries were running low, or gone completely.

After lunch, I walked to the other end of the house, where the driveway can be seen. And, what did I see? A man on a small orange machine (ATV? Tractor? I did not know), plowing the snow. Hooray, I thought. I could clearly see the plowboy, but had no idea who he was. I thought of him as “the bearded stranger.” I gave him a happy wave. He waved back. Who could he be?

I later figured out it was a friend I’d never seen with a beard, but he’d grown one for the winter. I called and thanked him. He told me to “pay it forward.” I don’t know how I’ll do that, but I’ll try.

That reminded me of some other times when neighbors I knew, or complete strangers, had bestowed some kindness upon me.

One time I recall is after a huge rain and wind storm. My driveway is bordered by a mountainside of very large, old pine trees. And, one of them had fallen across the driveway, blocking it. While I paced and fretted, I suddenly heard the sound of chainsaws. More than one of them.

I traipsed out to discover two neighbors hard at work, sawing off boughs and branches and tossing them over the hill. It was a happy and welcome sight. One man’s wife and child had come up to watch the chainsaw magic. I stood with them and watched, too. The wife and I joked that we were really just there so someone could call the rescue squad if necessary. It was not necessary.

A couple weeks ago in Covington, an older man stopped me as I got out of my car at Walmart. “Ma’am,” he said, “your brake light is out. You could get a ticket.”

A ticket for anything is something I’ve avoided all my life, thus far. And I certainly didn’t want to start now. What a kind thing for the stranger to do: Alert me to a problem. He could have just gone on his way, but instead, he did me a favor. Thank you!

Don’t you just love it when something like this happens?

I know that fellas around here love their chainsaws and snowplows. Once after a gigantic snow, a man I know casually actually drove a tractor – a big tractor – up to my house from about six miles away. He plowed me out, and would take nothing for his trouble.

He was lucky, though: I had just finished baking a batch of peanut butter cookies, so he got a big bag of warm cookies for his tractor ride back home.

The kindness of strangers – the kindness of anyone, really: Don’t you just gotta love it!